Batman '89's Most Wonderful Toy, The Batwing, Gets Restored
The Batwing, the compact jet-powered aircraft featured prominently in Tim Burton's 1989 blockbuster film Batman, has been restored to working order.
Special effects designer Adam Savage posted a video of himself examining the quarter-scale miniature under the care of Brandon Alger at Prop Store in Los Angeles, a group of movie archaeologists who curate such curios from cinema history. In the clip, Savage points out several astounding traits built into the model, including a mill saw that was converted into a defensive component at the prow of the vessel.
"Models are interesting because they're kind of like cars. Time tends to take a toll on them and they can be rebuilt and reworked and reset like cars," said Alger, noting the wear and tear that had befallen the scaled-down Batwing prop. Reiterating the point, Savage concurred by replying, "Yeah, you leave something that you've wired up for a few years and you don't know... connections get lost... I've had to repair stuff from Star Wars for Lucasfilm while filming... Sometimes these pieces just deteriorate. You've gotta keep them up."
Probing the remainder of the high-tech prop, Alger demonstrates the strobe lights and Gatling guns for Savage, which create the gunfire effect during Batman's climactic showdown with the Joker. Savage expressed particular excitement for the Gatling guns as well as the clippers used to neutralize the poison gas-filled balloons deployed by the supervillain. Concluding the video, Savage gushes, "It's a gorgeous restoration... it is such a pretty model."
According to Alger, the term for the type of restoration done for the Batwing is "sympathetic restoration." He said, "You want it to look like it did on film, but you don't want to go too far and make it look brand new. So, we try to keep as much originality as we could."